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Jim Mora: Better decision-making next step for Brett Hundley

CULVER CITY, Calif. -- UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley knows how to make an immediate impression.

Fans across the country found out when Hundley took his first-ever college snap and ran 72 yards for a touchdown at Rice, but Bruins offensive lineman Xavier Su'a-Filo knew months earlier after returning from a two-year Mormon mission.

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"When I first met him, he gave me a firm handshake. That means a lot to me," Su'a-Filo said at Pac-12 media day. "Looked me right in the eye and goes, 'So you're one of my offensive linemen, huh?' I started laughing and go, 'I guess so, huh?'

"Brett has the ability, especially on the field, too, to just take control. And as a quarterback, that's what he should do. It means a lot to us, for our offensive line and our offense. We need that."

That presence, something UCLA had lacked from the quarterback position for more than a decade, propelled the team to a Pac-12 South title and only the second win over cross-town rival USC since 1999. Hundley threw for a school-record 3,740 yards and his 29 passing touchdowns were second most by a Bruin in a single season.

"I thought as a freshman he did pretty dang good," Su'a-Filo said. "The thing I'm impressed with Brett is he always keeps his composure and he is always calm. Even when he made a mistake, even when something was going wrong, he is always calm. That is going to come into effect big time this year with him being more poised."

"I think the next step for Brett and the step that comes with experience and maturity is to become a better decision-maker, a more crisp decision-maker," head coach Jim Mora said.

Hundley will have to elevate his play for the Bruins to meet higher expectations this season. Running back Johnathan Franklin has graduated and the schedule includes road trips to Stanford, Oregon and Nebraska, which doesn’t bode well for a team that got blown out at 3-9 California and barely got past Washington State away from the Rose Bowl.

Su'a-Filo isn't concerned and expects Hundley's second impression to be as favorable as his first.

"What we will see in Brett this year is just a different player, as far as he still has all the ability and will make the plays, but he will be a lot more confident in it," Su'a-Filo said.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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